Kevin Costner introduced himself to me as I waited in line for the train to Machu Picchu. He was amazingly well disguised as a Peruvian jewelry vendor, but he couldn’t resist leaking the plan for his upcoming sequel. He and Julia Roberts were going to start filming Dancing With Llamas the following week. That was about five years ago, so I expect it will be showing anytime now.
My favorite bowl game took place in the Amazon River basin in Peru. The ball was round, and the “crowd” didn’t speak much English, but they gave us the best seats in the house. We only heard about the game because our jungle guide mentioned it as we returned from an excursion to see monkeys, caimans, and medicinal plants–complete with instructions for making cocaine. The game might have been better if the field had been longer since the players generally kicked the ball from one end to the other. We didn’t get to see much tricky dribbling. We also didn’t get to see anyone score. […]
On a rickety, hundred foot tower in the Peruvian rain forest, our guide couldn’t spot the toucans he’d hoped to show us. “I’ll call them,” he said, and pulled out his cell phone. We all laughed and watched as he pushed an icon and…played a toucan recording. The toucans came. I recognized their beak shape, but they weren’t Fruit Loops toucans–just dark colored birds we might see anywhere except for their profiles…that and answering phone calls.
After a walk in a Minnesota park I glanced at my shoes and started tearing my clothes off. Ticks were swarming my laces, storming my socks, and breaking ground on my shins. The battle was epic. In Florida, mosquitoes ravaged my legs right through my leggings until I looked like I’d been kick-boxing cactus. In Newfoundland, heavy clothes helped, but blackflies left knots all over my neck. Then a Peruvian butterfly garden specimen perched on my arm and begin shoving its proboscis at my skin…drinking my sweat? Steve may be right about my being a bug magnet. My parents used to call me “Sweetness” which sounds nice, but I’m beginning to suspect it […]
In a valley of the Peruvian Andes, our guide, a descendant of the Incas demonstrated his people’s ceremony for making offerings to the sacred mountains. He arranged three coca leaves in a fan and held them to his lips while he faced each mountain in turn and spoke its name then placed the leaves on a boulder. The timing of our late-April visit was suggested by our agent, an attempt to sidle between the rainy and hot seasons. The weather did cooperate nicely for our trip, but who’s to say whether that was luck, professional timing, or because we’d paid […]
At Machu Picchu’s Temple of the Condor, Incas placed their deceased leaders on a specially carved stone then attracted a condor to carry the leader’s spirit to the sky. Nice imagery, I guess, but knowing that “condor” is another name for “vulture” takes a lot away. Note to loved ones: Please don’t invite a vulture to my funeral.
When Mom was two or three, she told her mother something that sounded like “yammer yada blaa boo” to my busy grandmother. Mom put on her mother’s high heels, packed up the cat and a little rocking chair and set off to visit her grandfather who lived three-quarters of a mile or so up the road. But Mom didn’t take the road, she dragged the chair and cat cross-country through ditches and fences, gulches and cactus. Her mother enjoyed the quiet for a while then realized what was missing and panicked. Mom’s father had no trouble following the high-heeled […]